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Snow flickers through the streetlight. Her lips meet mine. Her friends call out they are leaving and she disappears through the white curtain into the darkness of night, leaving me standing in the parking lot, unsure I will ever see her again. My fingers play at a receipt in my pocket. Seven digits in orange colored pencil are the only hope I have.

Twenty years ago tonight I met my wife through a great confluence of events, including me telling my friends I was going to marry her. Who does that the first time they meet someone? I dunno—guess it was a bit of magic.

postbox /c. schoenfeld

This has absolutely nothing to do with our topic today though, ha. Let’s talk about how we communicate and provide feedback to each other on our poems. We have three main venues each week where we come together as a community and at each we fly all over the world reading poetry, responses to prompts or just what is on poet’s hearts and minds. Along the way we leave breadcrumbs, a trail of our meanderings and often sustenance for the lonely poet waiting on the other end for someone to respond to their work.

Just last week I stumbled upon a conversation about commenting and the writer was talking about how superficial some of the comments he gets are. I can agree, I have seen and received plenty in my day. It was part of the motivation for my poem for Poetics.

So what do you appreciate when someone leaves a comment on one of your poems?

A few best practices for me:

  • If you are struggling to think of something to say, focus on what the poem says to you, how it makes you feel, a memory that it brings up, what thoughts it generates in your head. It does not have to be what the poet was thinking. I have had many share something that added depth to a poem or makes me look at it in a new way. 
  • Another thing is to focus on an aspect of the piece that you thought worked, a poetic device such as alliteration, or rhyme scheme, a turn of phrase that jumped out at you.
  • If you are going to leave crit on a piece or make a negative comment, be specific. To say, ‘this piece did not work for me’ or ‘ugh, this poem sucks,’ without telling the author why—-you are just being a jerk. I am being nice in just using jerk there. Smiles.

Ok, your turn—what thoughts or best practices do you have when it comes to how we communicate with each other or provide feedback?

Have a great Monday, and see you right back here tomorrow night for OpenLinkNight.